"You never truly understand something until it actually happens to you."
For those of you who may not know, this month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Sure, what's the big deal, you ask? Lots of people get cancer and many of those people pass away from it. So why would childhood cancer be any different? Well, to tell you the truth, childhood cancer is the least researched of any cancer out there. It only accounts for 4% of all research funding and until you walk the walk, it won't affect you. You see, on November 15, 2007, I was pretty much like every other mom out there. I had a loving little boy who meant the world to me and my world was just peachy. Then on November, 16, I woke up to some horrible news and my little world came crashing down. That 4% meant more to me than anything else. Why? Well, because I wanted my son to survive. Wouldn't you? Every single day, more kids are being diagnosed and more kids are dying. The only good thing is that more parents are being affected and more parents are making it a point to help find a cure and fund research. These are our children and they deserve a future.
When Montana was diagnosed, life went on. It had to and we didn't have many choices other than to move forward each day and do what we needed to. Much of it was a blur and to this day, we look back and think, "Did we really go through all of that with a 2 year old for almost 3 years?" If I regret anything about his battle with cancer, it's that I didn't take more pictures of the day to day events. We have so many of him smiling, laughing, running and playing. Don't get me wrong, that is what we wanted but it also paints this image that it wasn't as bad as people think. There are no photos of him screaming from pain, crying from sickness, throwing up after procedures, bruises from shots, tears from the fear and so on. There were so many tears that we could fill photo books full of those images but at that time we only cared about his happiness. His smiles are what we lived for. It's not til years later that we wish we could show him just exactly what he went through. We wish we could try to explain in just some small way to strangers just exactly what these kids suffer through daily. It's not pretty. Cancer steals lives and it's stealing them as we speak.
There are so many wonderful organizations out there that are doing all they can to help fund research, to give kids amazing opportunites, and to help raise more awareness. If you are looking for a great organization to give to, we have a small list from experience that are absolutely amazing!
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
This hospital pretty much saved Montana's life. They went above and beyond anything we could ever have hoped for and still do. Patients NEVER see a bill, they are researching every single day to help find cures and the kids truly mean the world to them. LOVE THEM!!!
The Ronald McDonald House
We stayed here for roughly 8 months while in Memphis. The entire staff was so kind and super caring. They held parties, they made dinners and they always took care of the kids. The Ronald McDonald House was home to us during so many important dates and they always made sure it felt like home.
Make- A- Wish
This organization granted Montana his wish to go see Buzz Lightyear at Disney World. They go above and beyond trying to make sure the kids get what they "wish" for. They sent our family to Florida for an entire week while Montana was treated like a star. What's not to love about a non-profit who's entire goal is to put smiles on the faces of children suffering?
Give Kids the World
Give Kids the World is this amazing community that is located in Orlando, Florida. Imagine a neighborhood filled with joyful and happy kids all hanging out together. That is what this place is. GKTW housed us while on our Make A Wish trip. We had our own mini house and every day they would come by and leave treats and goodies for the kids. This village has a restaurant, amazing playrooms, a swimming pool and the nicest employees. We hope to take the kids one day to go volunteer here.
Roc Solid Foundation
Eric Newman was once a childhood cancer patient himself who later on (now) has turned his experiences with his battle into something amazing. He has created this awesome foundation that builds playgrounds for children who have battled cancer. They come to your house, take you out to breakfast and then you show up later to an awesomely built playground. Seriously, you could not ask for a better person with a bigger heart!!